How to Slow Down Your Dog’s Eating

Have you seen that video of the spaghetti eating competition between a Golden Retriever and German Shepherd? It perfectly illustrates the huge differences in speed in which our dogs eat. While some dogs delicately chew each piece of food others scarf it down within seconds.

Why do some dogs eat so fast? Some dogs eat fast because they feel like their food will get eaten up by someone else if they don’t get to it first, some eat fast due to certain medical conditions or medications, and others eat fast due to excitement. (If you have multiple dogs and one of them is a fast eater I recommend separating them for mealtime; it should help cut down on the feeling that dinner time is a competition.)

Regardless of why your dog is eating fast there is a valid reason to be concerned — it can be dangerous to your dog’s health. Fast eating can lead to stomach upset, gagging, choking, vomiting and a life threatening condition called bloat. (Large, deep chested breeds such as Great Danes are especially susceptible to bloat)

If you’re concerned about how fast your dog eats there are a few things you can do to help slow them down. Here’s 3 ways to slow down your dog’s eating.

Use a Food Dispensing Toy For Their Meals

Food dispensing toys are awesome for keeping your dog mentally stimulated, but when it comes to feeding your fast eating dog they come with an added benefit — they make it impossible for your dog to scarf down their food. Food dispensing toys (sometimes called treat dispensers) are designed to only let one or two pieces of food come out at a time.

They’re available at most pet stores (and on amazon), and they’re easy to fill up, use, wash and reuse the next day. My favorite is the Bob A Lot because it’s pretty heavy duty and the hole is adjustable. You simply fill it up with your dogs meal, hand it over to them and encourage to engage with it. As they roll it around the food will start to spill out.

It takes my dog about 10 minutes to finish her dinner out of the Bob A Lot, compared to the 30 seconds it would take if I just put it in her bowl. It’s an easy way to slow down her eating, and the best part is she really enjoys it. As soon as I pick it up she starts dancing around and getting excited.

When it comes to picking a treat dispenser for your dog there’s a few things to keep in mind. Is the toy you’re looking at going to be tough enough for your dog? Some toys (especially the ball shaped ones) are made of soft plastic that probably won’t hold up very well if your dog is a big chewer. Will your dog’s food fit through the hole, or is it adjustable? Is it easy to wash and/or dishwasher safe? If you answered yes to all three of those you’ve found a good one.

Buy or Make a Slow Feeder Bowl

There’s a lot of dogs that eat fast, and if you had any doubt about how common it is check out just how many different slow feeder bowls there are on amazon. They come in so many shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common — they’re designed with ridges inside to make it hard for your dog to gulp down their food.

If you’re looking for a quick and low effort way to help slow down your dogs eating a slow feeder bowl can help. You fill it with your dog’s food just as you’d normally do, and the bowl itself does all the work. The raised ridges act as obstructions, and they help slow down your dog’s eating.

When choosing a slow feeder bowl for your dog it’s important to remember that some are a lot more complex than others. Depending on how fast your dog eats, and how good they are at solving puzzles you might want to opt for a more complex one. A bowl with just 3 solid raised ridges in the middle won’t slow down your dog nearly as much as one with a more complex maze design.

If you want a pretty easy DIY option try feeding your dog out of a muffin tin. Spreading their food out between each muffin “hole” should slow down their eating. If it doesn’t slow them down enough you can make it a bit more challenging by adding some tennis balls on top.

Turn Mealtime into Game or Training Time

If you have a few extra minutes during your dog’s mealtime one of the best ways to slow down their eating is to turn it into a game or training session. You just measure out your dog’s meal as normal, and set it aside for the game or training session of your choice.

One of my dog’s favorite food related games is a nose work game called “find the treats.” While my dog is in a stay position I’ll go around the house and hide pieces of her food. (if your dog is new to this game start with “easy” hiding spots that are in plain sight) Once they’re all hidden I’ll tell her to go “find the treats” and encourage her as she finds each one. It’s mentally stimulating for her, and it prevents her from being able to gobble up her food in one gulp.

Using your dog’s food as a reward in training sessions is another way to help slow down their eating. You can work on some cool new tricks with your dog such as weaving through legs, or just brush up on the basics. Using your dog’s food as a training reward not only helps slow down their eating, it can help boost their confidence, keep them mentally stimulated, and improve their focus.

Is Your Dog a Fast Eater?

Does your dog eat too fast? What methods have you used to slow down their eating?

How to Slow Down Your Dog's Eating

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Dogs That Don’t Bark: 5 Quiet Dog Breeds

Dogs bark for a reason, although we don’t always appreciate their motives. A dog may bark to say he’s alarmed, frustrated, scared, happy, protective or excited. Some breeds, such as those in the Herding and Terrier groups, are notably vocal. Others, like the Basenji, are especially noiseless. And while there are no dogs that don’t bark, let’s hear from five generally less barky breeds, or quiet dog breeds. No guarantee given: All dogs are individuals and some love to prove generalities wrong!

1. Whippet

A whippet dog running.

Whippets are known to be quiet dogs! Photography courtesy Mary Huff, tailsindesign.com.

Extraordinarily speedy and yet cuddly as kittens, we Whippets are gracious, gentle and appreciative of a quiet environment. We’re small sighthounds with ancient origins. Over time, we became companions (and an economical race horse of sorts!) to the British working class. We could race up to 35 mph, and help keep food on the table. Today, we’re calm on the inside, exuberant on the outside. Natural athletes, we enjoy lure coursing, agility and running for the pure joy of running. Although we’re capable of barking, we rarely bother. Indoors or out, if you’re looking for an alarm dog, keep looking! We Whippets aim to keep the peace. Well, maybe not with rabbits, but that’s a different story….                  

2. Gordon Setter

A Gordon Setter dog.

Irish Setters aren’t the only Setter dogs who have a reputation for being quiet. Photography courtesy courtesy Barb Meining DVM and Mary Ann Leonard.

I lobbied hard for this spot. The Irish Setter almost always wins the “quiet Setter” spot, but maybe that’s because they’re so well-known? I’m not typically on the dogs that don’t bark list since I do have a watchdog gene. I’m energetic and aware, but usually not inclined to uncalled-for barking. I was developed to find quarry, pursuing pheasant and quail. No good comes from barking all day when hunting, of course. The Gordon in my name nods to the 4th Duke of Gordon, the Cock o’ the North. Although my ancestors existed before the Duke, we bear his name since he helped establish my breed in Scotland. Today, if I’m well exercised and included in your daily life, I’ll likely only bark when necessary. But yes, I prefer my own interpretation of “necessary.”

3. English Toy Spaniel

An English Toy Spaniel.

English Toy Spaniels, and their cousins, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, are pretty quiet dogs. Photography courtesy Sharon Wagner.

My nickname — the comforting spaniel — sheds light on my personality. Although I appreciate plenty of activity, I’m mainly a companion breed, known for my gentleness and kindness. I’m also upbeat, affectionate and eager to please. Developed centuries ago from Toy and Spaniel breeds, I share a history with my cousin, the equally gentle and usually quiet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Characteristically, I’m not a barky breed — how could I cuddle and comfort you if I were yipping and yapping?

4. Chow Chow

A Chow Chow dog.

Chow Chows are among dogs that don’t bark too much. Photography by Shutterstock.

An ancient breed with a lion-like appearance, we were developed in China as all-around working dogs. We hunted, guarded, herded and pulled carts to help our families. Queen Victoria’s interest in my forefathers contributed to our admiration in England. Today, we’re dignified, noble and mostly noiseless. We’re confident, capable and loyal to our owners, but rather skeptical about the outside world. I view newcomers approaching my home with skepticism, but I don’t typically bark at any little leaf blowing by the house.

5. Newfoundland

Two Newfoundland dogs.

Newfoundlands don’t usually bark — but when they do, it will be loud! Photography courtesy Newfoundland Club of Seattle.

Ever try swimming and talking at the same time? Now you know why I’m not typically vocal while I swim! Developed to work with fisherman in ice-cold waters, I’m celebrated for my courage, amiable nature and swimming strength in the water. My feet are even webbed and my coat is water resistant. We’re normally better lifeguards than house guards; we may rush to a water rescue, but we’re more likely to welcome strangers into the house than chase them off. Now for a caveat: If we do bark, it’s going to be loud. We boys weigh about 140 pounds; the ladies about 115 pounds. We don’t bark often, but when we do, you’ll surely hear us!

Tell us: What do you think? Do you know any dogs that don’t bark? What quiet dogs do you know? What breed(s) are they?

Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Sharon Wagner.

Why read breed profiles?

Dog breed profiles help everyone, whether you have a mixed breed or purebred dog, to better understand and improve the quality of your dog’s life. If you have a mixed breed dog, read up on all of the breed profiles that make up your dog. Not sure what breed your dog is? There are a number of easy DNA tests out there to help your find out.

Read more about dog barking on Dogster.com:

The post Dogs That Don’t Bark: 5 Quiet Dog Breeds appeared first on Dogster.

The Best Dogs For Cats? Try These 5 Cat-Friendly Dog Breeds

Looking for the best dogs for cats? Meet five cat-friendly dog breeds that generally (no guarantees!) adore, tolerate — or at least won’t torment — your family’s cats.

1. Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever.

A Golden Retriever is among the best dogs for cats. Photography courtesy Bill Wheeler, coloradoequestrianacademy.com.

I’m an athletic gundog, developed in Scotland to retrieve fowl for hunters. Lord Tweedmouth, one of our main breeders, encouraged my ancestors to love water. Now that’s a trait we don’t share with our cat buddies. Although bred strong for work, I have a sweet spirit and a gentle mouth. When we retrieve, we carry birds without damage. No one wants to cook mauled fowl! Our kindness carries over to the family’s animals, cats included. But of course, socialization is the key. If we’re exposed to friendly cats or raised with cats, we’ll likely build positive associations. Even later in life, because we’re highly biddable, we’ll tend to accept new cats to please you. We generally view each newcomer (of any species) as a possible playmate!

2. Cesky Terrier

A Cesky Terrier.

Cesky Terriers are cat-friendly dogs. Photography courtesy Barbara Hopler.

You may be surprised to see a Terrier on this list. Or perhaps you’ve never even heard of me? We’re a relatively rare breed, a family-loving hunting dog developed in Czechoslovakia. My ancestors were bred as robust, short-legged dogs. With our easy-to-clean coats, we transitioned into the house with minimal mess. Less scrappy than most Terriers, many of us tolerate (and actually appreciate) cats. Now for a caveat: obviously some individual dogs, regardless of breeds, don’t like cats. Maybe they had a bad experience, or perhaps their people forgot to socialize them. Now for a secret I’ll acknowledge: the use of barriers may inadvertently entice us to chase. It’s a good idea to socialize us to other animals with supervision, not gates.

3. German Shepherd Dog

A German Shepherd Dog.

A German Shepherd Dog’s loyal nature is perfect for getting along with cats. Photography courtesy Deborah Stern.

A renowned problem solver and protector, I was developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz in 20th-century Germany from sheep herding dogs. We’re used for police and military service, guide work, sentry duty, search and rescue, therapy — and any canine job you can name. My intelligence, trainability and loyalty to family are unrivaled. If you tell me to chase cats out of the yard, I will. If you tell me a cat is a family member, I’ll protect him — which gets me on this list of cat-friendly dogs. I concede I’m bossy around other animals. What herding breed isn’t? Not even I, however, can figure out how to herd that darn cat!

4. Brittany

A cat and a Brittany dog.

Brittanys make the best playmates for active cats. Photography courtesy Kathy J. Yaccino.

I’m leggy and lively, a great playmate for active cats but perhaps an annoyance to lazy cats. To explain my history, we need to talk about France, British hunters and canine romance. English gentry took their Pointers and Setters to Brittany to hunt woodcock, and left them there between hunting seasons. My forefathers may have mixed with native spaniel types. In time, we developed into a popular hunting dog, both a Pointer and Retriever. Cheerful and social, I’m typically patient and playful with the family cats. If your cat begs for a game of pursuit, the only damage done will be to his ego: I’m remarkably agile and quick with the chase!

5. Bearded Collie

A Bearded Collie.

Bearded Collies are, like cats, independent. Photography courtesy Debbie Chandler.

With ancestors likely bred down from European Komondor, we were developed in Scotland for herding sheep and cattle. I worked with my people, but I also herded independently. Therefore, I still possess an independent spirit and appreciate a cat’s similarly self-governing streak. I’m described as “bouncy” — partly for the jumping approach I use to control unruly sheep. But I’m also happily bouncy in play. Some, but not all, cats appreciate my enthusiasm. I’ll do my best to match my bounce with the cat’s pounce!

Thumbnail: Photography by Shutterstock.

Tell us: In your opinion, what are the best dogs for cats?

Why read breed profiles?

Dog breed profiles help everyone, whether you have a mixed breed or purebred dog, to better understand and improve the quality of your dog’s life. If you have a mixed breed dog, read up on all of the breed profiles that make up your dog. Not sure what breed your dog is? There are a number of easy DNA tests out there to help your find out.

Read more about dog breeds on Dogster.com:

The post The Best Dogs for Cats? Try These 5 Cat-Friendly Dog Breeds appeared first on Dogster.

Is Your Dog Losing Teeth? Find Out If It’s Normal

What does it mean if you notice your dog losing teeth? Depending on how old your dog is, dog teeth falling out might be normal.

When Your Dog Losing Teeth Is Normal

A puppy smiling and showing his teeth.

Is it normal to see puppy teeth falling out? Photography ©exies | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Like humans, puppies are born without teeth. At first, puppies survive on their mother’s milk. They don’t need any teeth until they start learning to eat solid food.

A puppy’s deciduous (baby) teeth begin to come in between 4 and 6 weeks of age. These needle-sharp teeth erupt from beneath the gum line. Between 3 and 6 months of age, a puppy’s baby teeth start falling out and the permanent teeth come in. During this time, you might find see a hole in the gums where a tooth was or find tiny teeth lying around the house or in your puppy’s food bowl. Puppies frequently swallow their baby teeth, too, so you might not see anything at all. (Note: This is completely normal and poses no danger to your puppy.) You might also notice a small amount of bleeding from the mouth. This is normal as well.

So, what’s not normal about a puppy losing teeth? Sometimes, your dog’s baby teeth do not fall out like they are supposed to. If you see tiny teeth next to or on top of the larger permanent teeth, let your veterinarian know. This phenomenon can cause damage to the permanent teeth coming in, so your vet might want to pull the retained teeth out during your dog’s spay or neuter surgery.

When Your Dog Losing Teeth Is Not Normal

Sometimes, dog teeth falling out is NOT something normal. Teeth can fall out for a number of reasons. Trauma to the mouth can knock out one or more teeth (for instance, if your dog is struck in the face with an object, if he falls from a significant height or if he is hit by a car). Teeth can also fall out if your dog chews on something too hard and the tooth breaks (for instance, a deer antler or hard chew bone). Broken teeth that don’t fall out on their own either need to be pulled out (called an extraction) or repaired with a root canal. Both of these procedures are usually performed by a veterinary dental specialist.

Periodontal disease (gum disease) can also cause teeth to become loose and fall out. “Tooth loss is caused by bacteria that develops into plaque and tartar,” says Missy Tasky, DVM, owner of Gentle Touch Animal Hospital in Denver, Colorado. When tartar builds up near the gum line, it allows bacteria [to] enter beneath the gum line, damaging the support structures of the teeth. “This leads to loss of bone and mobility of the tooth,” Dr. Tasky explains.

Periodontal disease is highly likely to develop in dogs when you don’t regularly brush the teeth at home and receive annual or bi-annual professional dental cleanings. When this happens, infections may set in. Periodontal disease is a very common cause of tooth loss and can also affect your dog’s overall health.

What Happens Next If Your Dog’s Teeth Fall Out?

If one or more of your dog’s teeth becomes infected and/or loose, your vet will probably recommend tooth extraction.

Surprisingly, most dogs have no problems adapting to tooth loss. “Most dogs and cats can eat fine, even with the loss of several teeth,” Dr. Tasky says. “Some animals have lost all of their teeth and are still able to eat dry food. The goal, however, is to retain as many teeth as possible because the teeth help contribute to the strength of the jaw.”

If you notice loose or missing teeth, bleeding gums or bad dog breath, have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Periodontal disease can be painful and make it difficult for your dog to eat normally. Your vet will likely want to do a thorough dental cleaning under anesthesia, take x-rays of the teeth to look for areas of damage and possibly pull one or more teeth. After the procedure, your dog will be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to guard against infection. If you’re worried that having teeth pulled will be too hard on your dog, don’t stress. Most dogs appear to feel fantastic after having their teeth cleaned and their loose, infected teeth removed, probably because they felt so much worse before the procedure.

Tell us: Has your dog lost any teeth? How old was she?

Thumbnail: Photography ©contrastaddict | E+ / Getty Images. 

Read more about dog teeth on Dogster.com:

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Why Is Your Dog Sneezing?

As most dog owners and aficionados understand, a dog’s nose is a powerful sense organ. Dog nasal passages are larger and better developed than those of humans — as such, they also tend to be better equipped against natural, biological agents. Studies have recently shown that the canine nose is home to a diverse microbiome, offering a wealth of protection against disease in this vitally important part of the body. So, let’s talk about dog sneezing. Why do dogs sneeze?

Are dog allergies to blame for dog sneezing?

A Beagle dog sneezing.

A Beagle dog sneezing. Photography by igorr1/Thinkstock.

Let’s debunk a popular and persistent myth. Dogs do not experience allergic reactions in the same way that people do. We know our own common responses and reactions, including swollen, watery or itchy eyes and repetitive sneezing. In dogs, sneezing is one of the least common reactions to allergens, be they to food, parasites, scented candles or household cleaning products.

Allergies are conditions and reactions that develop over time and repeated exposure to whatever the particular stimuli. Just as a wet or dry nose is not a reliable indicator of a dog’s general health, neither is a dog sneezing a reliable sign of dog allergies. For illness, we look to a dog’s activity level and eating habits as symptoms. For allergies, dogs are much more likely to develop discolored and itchy patches on their skin.

So, what causes sneezing in dogs?

The most common causes of dog sneezing include:

  • Irritants
  • Nasal mites
  • Sinus infections
  • Rhinitis and sinusitis
  • Tumors

Irritants and dog sneezing

What is a sneeze? At its most basic, a sneeze is a reflex action, in which the body attempts to expel some foreign object or irritant that has become trapped in the nasal cavity. Whether it is dirt, smoke or a tiny insect, the irritant’s presence disturbs the nasal lining, and sneezing in dogs is their first and easiest defense mechanism. If sneezing fails to dislodge the unwelcome guest, it can become more bothersome.

Dogs with a stubborn irritant in their nose will relentlessly rub their noses or heads against couches, trees or the ground, or start pawing continuously at their faces. The longer an external irritant or foreign object is caught in a dog’s nasal passage, the greater the chance that it might lead to fluid buildup and discharge. This can be mucus, pus or even blood, given enough time. Any of these can spur a secondary infection.

Nasal mites and dog sneezing

Your dog might sneeze because of an irritant every once in a while. Parasites — namely, nasal mites — can cause repetitive or chronic sneezing in dogs . At only about a millimeter in length, these mites can be difficult to spot in and around your dog’s nose when they first establish themselves.

Like the mites that cause mange, advanced symptoms won’t manifest until the immune system is overwhelmed and unable to keep them in check. A runny nose can accompany a nasal mite infestation, eventually becoming a bloody discharge as the mites reproduce, and regular sneezing fits may become the norm as the nasal lining is affected by constant irritation.

Sinus infections and dog sneezing

Respiratory diseases like canine influenza might certainly cause dogs to sneeze. As with many of the afflictions on this list, though, sneezing may be the loudest and most demonstrative symptom, but it certainly won’t be the most troubling. In the case of canine influenza virus, sneezing is one symptom, along with fever, nasal discharge and labored breathing.

Rhinitis and sinusitis and dog sneezing

Rhinitis and sinusitis are conditions in which the nose itself or the interior nasal passages, respectively, become inflamed. Dogs might sneeze as a result of inflammation, but dog owners will notice more dramatic changes in these cases. Causes of swelling might range from fungal infections to dental diseases and from irritants to tumors. Beyond a simple increase in sneezing, dogs with nasal inflammation, external or internal, might lose interest in food or have fluid discharges running from the nose or mouth.

Tumors and dog sneezing

Malignant growths such as carcinomas or sarcomas can develop in and around a dog’s nasal area with age. They tend to afflict very old dogs — over the age of 10 — and some larger dog breeds as they approach seniority. Sneezing is one symptom of a canine nasal tumor in an older dog, but watch out for labored breathing, discolored fluids (like pus and blood) dripping from a dog’s nose or distended skin around the nose and face.

Is your dog sneezing a lot? See a vet!

An ordinary dog sneeze is an ephemeral, even amusing phenomenon. If your dog is sneezing constantly and repetitively, or if sneezing is accompanied by swelling, fever or fluid discharge, please consult with your veterinarian!

Thumbnail: Photography by sebliminal/Thinkstock.

Read more about dog health and care on Dogster.com:

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